RM2 Joe Schmidt (59-60)

Finished As Army Aviator

It has been a long time from 1959-1960 when I was aboard the Sebago (in Mobile) to now, and a lot of water has "gone under the bridge" so to speak, and I would dearly love to visit with all of those who will be attending. I will, however, take this opportunity to update you on what happened to me after I left the 'Seabag'.

I went from Mobile to New Orleans, where I worked briefly in the Customs House as a teletype operator until my billet at Radio Station Galveston came open (a couple of months as I recall). I then worked at RADSTA Galveston for several years (where I met and married my bride of 48 years this year).

From there I went aboard a 180 ft buoytender until my discharge (after serving 6 years in the USCG and being promoted to RM1. I then enlisted in the US Army as an E-4 and went to Ft Polk, LA and ended up as a drill sergeant in the basic training unit there. From Ft Polk, I went to 3rd Army Headquaters in Atlanta, Georgia, where I was assigned as the Non-commissioned officer in charge of the Hq's, 3rd US Army Radio Station,(WARMARS), which lasted through President Kennedy's assassination, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and finally, my reciept of orders for Vietnam in 1964.

After serving one tour on the ground in RVN, I concluded that there must be a better way to fight a war, so I applied (and was accepted) to flight school. I entered Basic Flight Training in December 1965, and graduated in September 1966. It was then orders to Ft Sill Oklahoma, where I transitioned into Chinook CH-47 Medium Lift Helicopters, and immediate deployment back to RVN with the 196th Aviation Company as a new WO-1. After being promoted to CW2, I was given the opportunity to accept a battlefield commission to 2nd Lieutenant (which I accepted....more money), and after being shot down a total of three times, returned to the States and reassignment to FT Sill again.

By this time we had both of our sons, and I commenced my collegiate studies in ernest to earn my Bachelor of Science degree in Education. More military schools resulted in Instrument Flight Instructor and Instrument Flight Examiner qualifications and more flight time than I really wanted, but I had no problem with it because the Army was now putting me through my final year of college at Cameron College in Lawton, Oklahoma on what was called "The Bootstrap Program" (They paid for all of my tuition, books, and all of my regular Army pay and allowances, and all I had to do in return was study and fly at least 4 hours a month to stay current for my flight pay).

When I took my direct commission in RVN in 1967, I was assigned to the US Army Signal Corps, and it soon came time to go to the Signal Officer's Advance Course in New London, Conn (as a Captain). My family (all Texans) got a real shot of "reality" when they accompanied me to "Yankee-land". My sons grew up tough, since they had to fight almost every day....why?, because they had short hair, spoke with a southern accent, and were "military brats". (ha!, although it wasn't very funny then).

To make this long story short, I finished out my military career at Ft Hood, Texas as the Maintenance Officer for a 1000 man (plus) Army Area signal battalion following a wonderful three year tour in Alaska, and retired to the "life of a gentleman" in Lampasas, Texas. A few career changes later, I found myself retiring (for the third time) from my remodeling and construction business of eight years and moving 23 miles North of Huntsville, Texas to a small five acre tract in the piney-woods. We love it up here, and wake up each day feeling totally blessed. Health has not been real good, since I have had 13 major surgeries for broken neck, broken back, knee replacements, etc...but I think all that is pretty well over with, and we are both doing well at this time and enjoying the fruits of our retirement.

We would welcome any and all of our old shipmates and aquaintances for either correspondence or visits. Again, I am sorry that I will not be able to attend due to a longstanding previous commitment. Know that my best wishes and prayers are with each of you.

Sincerely, Joseph (Joe) Schmidt
RM1 USCG/Captain US Army (Retired)

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